Mirandizing Omar Farouk Abdulmutullab could really come back to haunt this administration, if al Qaeda even comes close to succeeding again.
The Obama administration’s top intelligence officials on Tuesday described it as “certain” that al-Qaeda or its allies will try to attack the United States in the next six months, and they called for new flexibility in how U.S. officials detain and question terrorist suspects.
The officials, testifying before the Senate intelligence committee, also warned of increased risk of cyber-attacks in the coming months, saying that the recent China-based hacking of Google’s computers was both a “wake-up call” and a forerunner to future strikes aimed at businesses or intended to cause economic disruption.
“Al-Qaeda maintains its intent to attack the homeland â€” preferably with a large-scale operation that would cause mass casualties, harm the U.S. economy or both,” Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair told the committee in a hearing convened to assess threats against the country.
Blair and CIA Director Leon Panetta warned of new threats from al-Qaeda’s regional allies, such as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
Several groups appear increasingly intent on attacking U.S. and other Western targets, even as al-Qaeda’s core leadership struggles to regain its footing after repeated setbacks and eroding popular support in the Muslim world, the officials said.
“They are moving to other safe havens and regional nodes such as Yemen, Somalia, the Maghreb and others,” Panetta said. He said al-Qaeda-inspired groups had successfully “deployed individuals to this country,” citing recently disrupted terrorist plots in Colorado and Chicago.